1123 H Street, NE, the proposed future home of Vybrations – a 350 seat upscale vegan restaurant.
Neighbors Skeptical about Arrival of Vybrations on H Street, NE
by Larry Janezich
Posted January 26
Last Tuesday, Sean Morris – an attorney who represents clients seeking a liquor license – came before ANC6A’s Alcohol Beverage Licensing (ABL) Committee, in support of an application for a liquor license by the owners of Vybrations – a proposed 350 seat “upscale” vegan restaurant at 1123 H Street, NE. The location is the former home of both the notorious XII Lounge and Touché Supper Club.
XII Lounge – whose raucous tenure was characterized by violence and violations of its settlement agreement with the community – ultimately had its license suspended.
XII was succeeded by Touché which had a fraught relationship with neighbors involving multiple complaints about noise from the venue’s roof deck resulting in ANC6A’s protest of the renewal of the license. ABRA renewed the license but Touché closed after running afoul of the law at a December 23, 2017, event which apparently involved bartering and consumption of marijuana, which is prohibited in an establishment holding a liquor license.
Given that history, some 20 plus neighbors at Thursday night’s virtual meeting expressed skepticism that the new venture was primarily a restaurant, especially since the application includes a request for an entertainment endorsement both inside and outside on the 50 seat rooftop terrace and hours of operation until midnight on weekdays and 2:00am on weekends.
Morris disclosed during the meeting that the owners have another restaurant – Shark Bar – in Waldorf, Maryland. A frequent form of entertainment at that restaurant is billed as Live Band Karaoke. Morris says the entertainment for Vybrations will be rhythm and blues, jazz, and Latin jazz. Here’s a link to Shark Bar’s FB page.
Nearby residential neighbors are loathe to revisit their experiences with the previous occupants of 1123 H Street. The prevailing concern is noise, but other issues raised include hours of operation, parking, sidewalk line management, late night departures of patrons moving noisily through neighborhoods, and smoking on the rooftop terrace. One neighbor said “350 seats is not a restaurant, it’s an entertainment venue.” Residents were also disappointed that the owners did not appear at the meeting to answer questions which Morris could not.
Owners hope to open in late spring or early summer. Morris stressed the intention of the owners to be good neighbors and to ensure that anything happening is in keeping with the character of the neighborhood. He assured neighbors that all of their concerns could be addressed in a community Settlement Agreement which the owners would be amenable to signing.
The proposed restaurant lies in the Single Member ANC District of Commissioner Mike Velasquez, who was unable to attend the meeting. He sent a statement which ABL Committee Chair Erin Sullivan read on his behalf.
The statement spoke of the need to balance the desire for the proposed restaurant to succeed with the concerns of the neighbors who “don’t want to relive the nightmare caused by previous businesses.” He said that he thinks the ANC can strike a balance while being mindful of past traumas, and that “I’m particularly concerned about an entertainment endorsement and hours of operation for inside and outside. Live entertainment on the roof top until midnight during the week is a non-starter.”
Chair Sullivan followed up; telling Morris the ANC was likely to seek an agreement banning music on the rooftop. Morris said his clients respect that and are not looking for anything out of character for the neighborhood.
As is its custom for all liquor license applications, the Committee voted unanimously to protest the application unless a Settlement Agreement is reached prior to the ABRA protest deadline of February 13. ANC Chair Amber Gove, Vice Chair Keya Chatterjee, ABL Committee Chair Erin Sullivan and Commissioner Mike Velasquez were empowered to represent the ANC to negotiate and agree to a Settlement Agreement. The issue will be considered by the full ANC at its February 9th meeting during its plenary session (as opposed to the consent calendar).
Should the ANC go to protest, the usual procedure is for ABRA to require mediation to try to resolve issues before a Protest Hearing date of May 3rd.
2 responses to “Neighbors Skeptical about Arrival of Vybrations on H Street, NE”
The only way Vybrations could be more questionable is if George Santos appeared before the committee.
Shark Bar’s Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/SharkbarwaldorfMD . Looks like it’s “the late-night place to be!”